The 350-acre horse race track 2 was announced in a January 1923 issue of The Thoroughbred Record after developers Jack O. Keene and Tom Cromwell 1 had put an initial option on 270 acres of land near Russell. 3
The pair constructed a 1½-mile dirt track, a 4,000-seat grandstand, 22 horse stables, a jail, and a railroad spur from the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad at the cost of $110,000. 1 3 The official’s residence was built 500 yards from the grandstand that cost $10,000. Room for an additional 500 stables, worker housing, and a water tank was set aside.
Raceland made its debut on July 4, 1924, with a first-class boxing match with over 5,000 in attendance. 1 3 The first horse race, the “Ashland Handicap,” was attended by 27,000 patrons on July 10. 2 It featured Kentucky Derby winner “Black Gold” and four other Run for the Roses entrants. Due to the track’s popularity and association, the city of Chinnville was renamed Raceland after the race track. 3
Raceland was known as the “Million Dollar Oval” during its peak in the mid-1920s. 1 Lined with a white wood and iron fence and elaborate pink and maroon roses, the track was nothing short of elegant. The bridle paths and front lawn, paved in red tapestry brick, matched the clubhouse, stewards’ stand, and judge’s stand. The infield featured a lake and sunken gardens.
Financial difficulties at the dawn of the Great Depression caused Raceland to fold in 1929. 3 Keene went on to develop the famed Keeneland horse race track in Lexington. 2 The grandstands, sold shortly after the track closed, were demolished in 1937. The official’s residence, clubhouse, and a few horse stables remain as of 2018.
- Hollingsworth, Kent. “Sarazen.” The Kentucky Thoroughbred. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009. 6. Print.
- Historical marker.
- Hapney, Terry L., Jr. “Raceland steeped in history thanks to racetrack heritage.” Greenup Beacon 17 Dec. 2013: n. pag. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. Article.